By Jon Mowat
Engagement. That’s the buzzword that marketing managers the world over are fixating on right now. It suggests a two-way relationship where both parties are engaging with one another, and interactivity is the ultimate vote of confidence for branded content. Metrics such as retweets, likes and shares could be said to constitute engagement, but nothing beats the power of 360-degree video for creating meaningful experiences.
The ability to step inside the world presented in front of your eyes is innately appealing, and being able to change your viewpoint from any angle sounds like a vision of the future pulled straight from the pages of science fiction. Yet in 2017 this has become a reality open to anyone with a Facebook account - which equates to roughly half the world’s population.
You don’t even need a VR headset (although they are readily available and relatively cheap these days), as a simple click and drag motion allows you to navigate the screen at will.
You’ve probably heard lots of facts and figures charting the rise of online video marketing and why it’s fast becoming the medium of choice for brands of all sizes, but let’s have a quick recap as to why Facebook 360 is set to become so dominant:
- 82% of all consumer Internet traffic is predicted to be video by 2019 - Cisco VNI.
- According Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the social network will “probably be all video” by 2021.
- A recent Google study tested two versions of the same advert - one standard video vs. one 360-degree video - and the 360 version resulted 41% more earned actions (views, shares and subscribes).
So, as mobile Internet speeds continue to improve and consumers press play more frequently, and Facebook moves towards a video-first future, a strong case has already been built to start shooting and jump on the broadcast bandwagon.
However, if brands are going to elevate themselves above the competition, they’ll have to go all-out to make their video experiences better and more compelling than the rest, and, as the Google test suggests, 360-degree video is the perfect way to do just that.
Take Your Audience for a Ride
There’s a whole world of possibilities to explore, and Facebook 360 offers a panoramic window of opportunity for brand marketers. Early adopters of the technology have included the automotive and travel sectors, and below here are two of my favourite films from the past few months.
Firstly, this exhilarating effort from BMW UK. Press play and prepare to be blown away as you click and drag screen to manipulate the view.
How immersive is that? Did you get the feeling of butterflies in your tummy as you raced around the corners? I know I did, and I imagine many of the 3.5 million viewers to have watched the video so far felt the same.
Now, I know that the majority of those watching won’t harbour any genuine ambitions of being a racing driver, but that experience will live on in the memory, and from a branding perspective that positive reinforcement bodes very well, especially when introducing the new M series at the end of the video.
Next up, we’ve got Thomson holidays showcasing the very best of Iceland’s Northern Lights.
Experiencing Aurora Borealis in all its majesty is on the bucket list of many a millennial, and seeing that pop up on your Facebook feed could be just the thing to tempt one to book their seat on the plane.
Being able to ‘look up’ and see the dancing whirlwind of green directly above you is immensely moving, and it’s this ability to transport viewers to wherever they desire that brands can tap into.
Facebook 360 allows a certain ‘try before you buy’ mentality, one that could pay dividends for brands that focus on creating immersive experiences that target audiences can replicate in real life.
Many would agree that social video is the most effective medium for brand storytelling, and I believe that Facebook 360 is the perfect format to play this out. I’ve backed 360 video as one of my marketing trends for 2017, and you can hear my other top tips in this short video: